Minor League Links: Campos, Heathcott, Impact Prospects

Campos. (Presswire)
Campos. (Presswire)

The Yankees continue the Grapefruit League season later today and there will be a television (and online) broadcast, so hooray for that. We’ll have a regular game thread when the time comes. Here are some miscellaneous minor league notes to hold you over until first pitch.

Campos to work as a starter in 2016

Earlier this week Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings that RHP Vicente Campos will indeed continue to work as a starting pitcher this season. Campos, who came over from the Mariners in the Jesus MonteroMichael Pineda trade, missed the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old had a 6.29 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 54.1 innings across 13 starts with mostly High-A Tampa after returning last year. The Yankees re-added him to the 40-man roster over the winter to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent.

The ERA was ugly but Campos showed good control following surgery last summer (18.9 K% and 4.2 BB%) and his stuff reportedly returned to its pre-surgery levels, meaning a mid-90s heater and a hard upper-70s curveball. Campos, who used to go by Jose, has thrown only 166 innings over the last three years due to injuries, so he hasn’t had much time to work on his changeup. I think he’s likely to end up in the bullpen long-term because of that, but it makes sense to keep him in the rotation for the time being, if only to build up innings. There are a ton of guys ahead of him on the bullpen depth chart, though I wouldn’t rule out Campos making his MLB debut at some point in 2016.

Heathcott studying the swings of MLB’s best

In an effort to fine tune his swing, OF Slade Heathcott told Ryan Hatch he has been studying video of the game’s best hitters, such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Josh Donaldson. “Just their approach, the load, the path to the ball,” he said. “Hitting the ball on a plane. That’s what works for me. Not trying to hit home runs, but get the ball in the air.”

Heathcott, now 25, had a 38.1% ground ball rate during his limited big league time last season. It was 51.6% in Triple-A last year and 51.5% with Double-A Trenton in 2013. (Injuries limited him to only nine games in 2014.) Heathcott has speed, so he can leg out some infield hits, but he’s going to have to get the ball in the air more often to really have an impact offensively. If watching videos of guys like Trout and Harper helps, great.

No Yankees among Law’s top 25 impact prospects for 2016

Keith Law (subs. req’d) recently put together a list of the top 25 impact prospects for the 2016 season, which is different than a general top 25 prospect list. Not everyone in a general top 25 list is big league ready. Dodgers SS Corey Seager predictably tops the top 25 impact prospects list, which features no Yankees. In his weekly chat, Law said C Gary Sanchez wasn’t really considered for the list because of a lack of playing time. Even if Sanchez makes the Opening Day roster, Brian McCann is going to get the lion’s share of the playing time behind the plate. Understandable.

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Baseball America’s position rankings

The crew at Baseball America finished posting their prospect position rankings this week. They released the catcher, right-handed pitcher, and left-handed pitcher lists two weeks ago. Here’s a quick recap with all of the relevant Yankees:

Keep in mind the No. X prospect at one position is not necessarily of equal caliber to the No. X prospect at another position. Talent isn’t linear across positions. Baseball America’s top ten Yankees’ prospects list had Refsnyder one spot behind Wade, for example. Add in Sanchez, who ranked No. 1 on the catcher list, and the Yankees had a top ten prospect at five of the nine positions. That’s pretty good.

Misc. Links

Here are a bunch of miscellaneous links that are worth checking out and come with RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

  • Sweeny Murti has a must read interview with farm system head Gary Denbo (part one, part two). Denbo confirmed Judge made some adjustments with his lower half over the winter, which we noticed the other day.
  • Joel Sherman profiled OF Estevan Florial, who is the shiny new toy in the farm system. Florial, 18, signed for $200,000 last March after being suspended for a year by MLB for falsified documents, which he used to enroll in school a few years back. Lots of folks are talking about Florial as the next great Yankees prospect.
  • Mark Feinsand wrote about RHP James Kaprielian, who lost his mother to breast cancer two years ago. Kaprielian explained how the experience shaped him as a man and helps him deal with adversity on the field.

As a reminder, the four full season minor league affiliates begin their regular season on Thursday, April 7th this year. That’s three days after the big league Yankees behind their season.

Open Thread: March 4th Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees lost their second straight Grapefruit League game this afternoon, falling 3-0 to the Tigers. Vinnie Pestano served up a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera for the day’s only offense. Didi Gregorius, Brian McCann, and Dustin Ackley each had one hit. Didi doubled and drew the team’s only walk. Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks were both 0-for-3.

Bryan Mitchell struck out two in two hitless and scoreless innings. He did walk and a hit a batter. James Kaprielian retired all six batters he faced with two strikeouts, and one scout told Erik Boland he was sitting 94-96 mph. I’m sure Kaprielian was a little amped up for his first spring outing, though it does seem last year’s velocity uptick is here to say. He joked he “had a game plan and everything” for Miggy but didn’t get to face him, says Jared Diamond. Here’s the box score, here are the photos (no video since the game wasn’t on TV), and here are the day’s notes:

  • Pretty slow day at the complex. Masahiro Tanaka threw a bullpen, Brett Gardner (wrist) hit in the cage again, and all the regulars who didn’t play in this afternoon’s game took batting practice. That’s about it. CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, and Andrew Miller will all throw in workouts tomorrow. [Chad Jennings, Brendan Kuty]
  • Domingo German (elbow) will be shut down for two weeks with ulnar nerve irritation before beginning a throwing problem. His recently rebuilt elbow ligament is intact. Donovan Solano was scratched from today’s game and is dealing with some back tightness. [Kuty, Jennings]
  • Jacoby Ellsbury will leadoff tomorrow in what will be his first spring game of the year. Chasen Shreve will also pitch in tomorrow’s game after taking a line drive to the back during live batting practice earlier this week. Tomorrow’s game will air on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Tyler Cloyd is scheduled to start. [Ryan Hatch, Jennings]

Here is the nightly open thread. MLB Network is showing the Royals and Padres live a little later tonight, plus all of the local hockey and basketball teams are playing except the Islanders. And there’s some college hoops on the schedule too. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

The Latest on the Yankees vs. StubHub

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Two weeks ago the Yankees announced they will eliminate the print-at-home ticket option this season. Hard-stock tickets and mobile barcodes will be the only way into Yankee Stadium. The team says the goal is eliminating ticket fraud. I’m sure the potential for increased ticket revenue is only a secondary concern. (To be fair, the Yankees are not the only pro sports team eliminating the print-at-home option.) Anyway, here’s an update on the team’s war with StubHub.

Yankees meet with StubHub, accomplish nothing

Last week team president Randy Levine and StubHub president Scott Cutler met to discuss … something. I’m not sure what, exactly. Here are the statements Levine and Cutler released afterwards:

Levine: “I met today with Scott Cutler, President of StubHub, and we had a good and productive meeting. It lasted about an hour and we agreed to continue talking. There is nothing to announce at this current moment, but we will update everyone when we have news.”

Cutler: “StubHub appreciates the Yankees willingness to meet and have an open dialog with regards to their ticketing policies. We were encouraged by the tenor of the conversation and look forward to continuing these discussions in the days ahead. StubHub is committed to putting fans first and passionately advocating for them with both our partners and the industry at large.”

If nothing else, this at least gives off the impression the Yankees are making an effort to work with StubHub. They’ve been so anti-StubHub over the years though — remember, they once sued StubHub because their ticket kiosk was too close to Yankee Stadium — that it’s hard for me to believe any sort of meaningful change will come out of this.

Yankees may let StubHub transfer mobile barcodes

According to Billy Witz, Levine said the Yankees may be willing to allow StubHub and other ticket providers to unlock mobile tickets. “The bottom line is, we would work with ticket providers as long as we know they’re legitimate, doing it in the spirit of helping our ticket buyers. But the ones I’ve talked to, including StubHub and SeatGeek, they don’t want to do that because they don’t want to spend the time and money,” said Levine.

This sounds great — as long as you have a smart phone — except this is the first StubHub has heard about it. “That is definitely news to us and definitely something we’d be interested in,” said StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman to Witz. “You’d be opening up a playing field and being given the opportunity to buy and sell tickets in an open marketplace, which is what we’re asking. All we would like is an opportunity to compete.”

Transferring mobile barcodes through StubHub (or another ticket company) would likely require the use of a third company like Flash Seats, writes Witz. Buyers would have to register with Flash Seats to receive mobile barcodes, allowing the team to track who is sitting in each seat. It would be a way for the Yankees to track the market and possibly charge additional fees.

StubHub considering courier service for tickets

In an effort to get hard-stock tickets to fans, StubHub is considering a courier service that would deliver tickets from the buyer to the seller, reports Jared Diamond. This could all happen within hours of first pitch. Nothing is final yet; StubHub is still exploring the possibility. I assume the courier service would come with some sort of fee, though it’s possible the tickets plus courier fee would still be a better deal than buying tickets at face value from the Yankees themselves, especially as prices drop big time before first pitch.

As the Red Sox change plans again, the Yankees continue to stick to theirs (for better or worse)

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

When the Yankees played their first Grapefruit League game of the year Wednesday, future rotation cornerstone Luis Severino was on the mound. Severino represents a sea change for the Yankees. Not too long ago the team used promising young like players like him to acquire proven big leaguers. Now they’re incorporating players like Severino into their big league roster and looking towards the future.

This emphasis on young players is fairly new. Remember, it was only two offseasons ago that the Yankees committed over $450M to big ticket free agents, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka. Last year the Yankees shifted gears and went young with a few mid-range free agents mixed in, namely Andrew Miller and Chase Headley. This offseason they avoided free agents all together and continued to get younger.

That’s the plan now: young players and no big money long-term contracts, at least not until the ones already on the books expire. The Yankees say they’re committed to this plan and I buy it. They’ve been to the postseason once in the last three years, and that was a one-game cameo as the wildcard team last season. Ratings and attendance are down. The Mets are the talk of the town. The free agent class was outstanding. The Yankees had every reason to spend big and trade prospects for big leaguers this past winter, and they didn’t do it. Regardless of whether you agree with it, their restraint was impressive.

Meanwhile, a few hours north, the Red Sox have apparently once again changed their organizational philosophy. Last week owner John Henry said the club won’t rely on analytics as much going forward — they’re not abandoning statistical analysis, just scaling back — even though they’ve had a ton of success over the last 12 years thanks to their ability to interpret numbers. Heck, Henry made his fortune using data to analyze hedge funds. You won’t see the Yankees abandon analytics anytime soon.

“One of the reasons that we’ve been able to avoid a dramatic falloff and at least be competitive is how effective our analytics have been,” said Brian Cashman to Peter Gammons recently. “We’ve been able to find players to fit in, like (Nathan) Eovaldi. We have great scouts and development people, but there are a lot of factors that go into the totality of an organization.”

Over the winter the Red Sox signed 30-year-old David Price to a $217M contract only a year after Henry said spending big on players on the wrong side of 30 is a bad idea. “Virtually all of the underpaid players are under 30 and virtually all the overpaid players are over 30, yet teams continue to extravagantly overpay for players above the age of 30,” said Henry to Nick Cafardo in 2014. “It is a wildly different approach. We haven’t participated in this latest feeding frenzy of bidding up stars.”

The Red Sox also traded high-end prospects for bullpen help after former GM Ben Cherington — with Henry’s blessing — wanted the club to focus on developing their own cornerstone players. That plan didn’t work in 2014, the year after the BoSox won the World Series by spreading the wealth around and signing several quality free agents rather than one or two stars. That spread it around strategy came about after spending huge dollars on Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford failed spectacularly.

That’s an awful lot of philosophical changes in a short period of time. The Red Sox have spent big, spent small, gone young, and now they’re circling back to spend big again. And now they’re scaling back on analytics to some degree. It gives off the impression the BoSox are reeling from all the recent last place finishes, don’t have any answers, and are scrambling for a solution. Fair or not, that’s how it comes off. Every plan needs to be flexible. This goes beyond normal flexibility.

For better or worse, the Yankees are now going young — they’re entering year two of this go young plan, so it’s lasted longer than any of the Red Sox’s recent plans — after years of spending big and emphasizing veterans. The Yankees were bonafide World Series contenders not too long ago and spending big made sense. Success is fleeting these days. I think you have to go all-in when you can, and the Yankees did just that.

Now it makes sense to step back and retool for the future, which the Yankees are doing. They’re trading for young guys with upside and keeping their prospects. That they’ve so far been able to do that without becoming an abject embarrassment on the field is gravy. I have no idea if this plan will work, but I’m pretty confident the Yankees will see it through either way.

Changing strategies year after year is no way to run a team. Not if the goal is long-term success. You’ve got to find a plan, stick to it, and hope it’s successful. One year is not nearly enough time to determine whether something as important as a team-building strategy is a success in this game.

Year Two of the Didi Gregorius Era [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last year at this time, the Yankees were preparing to begin the first season of the post-Derek Jeter era. The Cap’n had been entrenched at shortstop for the better part of two decades, and although Jeter’s game had slipped with age, replacing him was not going to be easy. All eyes were going to be on his replacement and the pressure promised to be intense.

The Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade following Jeter’s retirement and let him sink or swing at shortstop. Didi struggled the first few weeks of the season, no doubt about it, but he started to settle in around mid-May. He hit .294/.345/.417 (109 wRC+) in the second half and played the hell out of short. The Yankees were patient early in the season and Gregorius rewarded them.

Things figure to be a little more comfortable for Gregorius this season, if for no other reason than because he’s more familiar with his situation. “It’s going to come up anyway, it’s never in the past,” said Didi to reporters last week when asked about no longer having to worry about being the guy who replaced Jeter. That narrative is never going away, unfortunately. Most see this as Year Two of the post-Jeter era. I prefer to look at it is as Year Two of the Gregorius era.

“I started to pick up halfway through and try to keep it going this year,” added Didi. “Getting to know the (American League) a little better, that was the thing in the first couple of months. Hopefully I can stay consistent through the whole year. It’s an improvement year and you have to improve every year. Hopefully try and keep the same thing going and try to get even better.”

Based on everything we saw from mid-May through the end of the season, Gregorius’ defense might be the most predictable aspect of the Yankees going into 2016. I’m more confident saying Didi will be an outstanding gloveman than I am saying pretty much anything else about the team right now. Gregorius has very good range, good hands, and a crazy strong arm. His defense is no question. It’s going to be great.

That all means the 2016 season is going to be about his offense, specifically his ability to take a step forward and contribute a little more. Didi did hit .265/.318/.370 (89 wRC+) overall last season, which is a touch better than the .256/.307/.375 (85 wRC+) batting line authored by shortstops around MLB in 2016. Gregorius hit .272/.321/.391 (94 wRC+) against righties and .247/.311/.315 (73 wRC+) against lefties.

In a perfect world, Gregorius would improve to the point where he is above-average against righties and competent against lefties this season. That seems like a modest goal. Take a nice little step forward and begin punishing righties while making lefties work for their outs. That’s not asking too much, is it? He knows how to make contact (14.7 K% overall and 15.9 K% against lefties), so getting the bat on the ball isn’t a problem.

Didi’s batting ball splits are pretty interesting, because they say he both hit the ball harder in the second half and sprayed it around the field a little better. Check it out:

Didi Gregorius batted ball

In the first half of the season Gregorius hit a ton of ground balls and he didn’t make much hard contact. In the second half, he hit the ball in the air way more often and he did a better job making hard contact. The spray data is neat too. Didi actually pulled the ball more in the second half, but he also went to the opposite more as well. He added some more balance to his game.

To me, that’s all good news. More hard contact and putting the ball in the air in a pretty good recipe for success. Didi’s not a speedster. He’s not someone who is going to put the ball on the ground and beat out a bunch of singles. He has the strength to drive the ball, and in the second half last year he did exactly that, drive the ball in the air and all around the field. This year I’d like to see Gregorius do that even more. More hard contract, maybe a few more balls in the air, and some more to left field as well.

Last season was all about getting Gregorius acclimated to his new team and his new situation. It was not his first chance at everyday playing time but it was his first full big league season, and he did it as the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees the year after Derek Jeter retired. That’s a lot to take on. Year One of the Gregorius era was about surviving all of that. Year Two is about improving. We now know Didi is a starting caliber shortstop. There’s also reason to believe he has the potential to contribute even more.

Mailbag: Refsnyder, Gardner, Teixeira, Mateo, A-Rod, Otani

Fifteen questions in the mailbag this week. As always, use the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address to send us anything throughout the week. Mailbag questions, comments, links, whatever.

Gardy. (Presswire)
Gardy. (Presswire)

Jacob asks: How similar is Rob Refsnyder to Brett Gardner offensively? Would it make sense to put Ref in left if Gardy is traded or Hicks?

Refsnyder and Gardner might actually be pretty comparable offensively, at least on a rate basis. Refsnyder won’t be the same kind of weapon on the bases — even though he’s no longer a 40+ steal guy, Gardner still runs well and adds value with his legs — but the slash lines could be similar. Check out their 2016 ZiPS projections:

Gardner: .256/.330/.405 (104 OPS+)
Refsnyder: .248/.318/.395 (98 OPS+)

Refsnyder’s not that far off from Gardner in the eyes of the objective computer algorithm. You’re not getting the same speed though, and you’re definitely not getting the same level of defense either, even with Gardner’s glovework beginning to slip with age.

The Yankees have so many quality young outfielders right now — if not Aaron Hicks, then Slade Heathcott or Ben Gamel, or Aaron Judge, or Mason Williams once healthy — that I don’t see the point in putting Refsnyder in left field full-time. I say try to make him a utility guy who can play second, third, and some corner outfield in a pinch. It seems like Refsnyder would be most valuable in that role, not as a full-time corner outfielder.

Brian asks: Besides the obvious platoon of Hicks/Beltran/Ells/Gardy, is there another platoon you think could develop?

I think one could develop at shortstop, with Starlin Castro playing short and Refsnyder playing second against left-handed pitchers. That would depend on a) Refsnyder actually being on the roster, and b) Didi Gregorius struggling against lefties so much that it’s impossible to ignore. Gregorius did hit .308/.368/.397 against lefties in the second half last season, so if nothing else, that’s a reason not to platoon him. You want Didi to improve against lefties and sitting on the bench is no way to do that.

Aside from shortstop, I suppose we could see some kind of platoon behind the plate as well, assuming Gary Sanchez is on the roster. There’s no sense in platooning Austin Romine or Carlos Corporan. No offense, but they’re not worth the trouble. McCann has actually hit lefties quite well with the Yankees (124 wRC+), though a platoon would put Sanchez is a good position to succeed, and also get McCann off his feet with some regularity. He just turned 32 and the Yankees don’t want him turning into a pumpkin with three years left on his contract.

Dylan asks: Doesn’t a two year deal for Teixeira make total sense right now? Next year he can start at 1B while we learn how Bird will respond to the injury and if he is still a long term solution. The year after, in a perfect world, Bird will slide in to starting at first, while Tex can spell Bird at first, and primarily DH. It seems like a great transition plan to me. What would it take to get it done? Mike Morse-ish? 2 years $16 million? Maybe 2/$20?

Oh come on, Mark Teixeira‘s no Mike Morse. Adam LaRoche got two years and $25M last offseason and Teixeira should get at least that if he repeats his 2015 season in 2016. I wouldn’t sign Teixeira right now. Let the season play out and see what happens first. I wouldn’t want to lock myself into the 38-year-old version of Teixeira in 2018 without first seeing what the 36-year-old version in 2016 looks like. Re-signing him should be Plan A if it appears Greg Bird won’t be ready to take over as the starting first baseman next year, and it might take a two-year contract to get it done, but I wouldn’t jump on it just yet. I’m comfortable letting this one play out in a few months.

Anonymous asks: We’ve heard endless much ado about trading Brett Gardner. Is he basically untradeable at the moment (wrist)?

I’ve come to realize no player is truly untradeable these days, but no, Gardner is not untradeable. He’s still a solid player signed to a fair contract, and those guys will always have a market. Gardner’s wrist injury doesn’t seem serious — he’s hitting and going through all the normal drills — and while I’m sure teams would try to use it to drive down the price, I doubt it’s a deal-breaker. I don’t expect the Yankees to trade Gardner during the season anyway. Maybe they’ll try again next offseason should Hicks, Judge, or any of the other Triple-A outfielders really force the issue.

Brad asks: Since the Yanks have young up-the-middle talent under team control for a while, do you think they will give Mateo a shot in CF any time soon? We haven’t had a real CF (Ellsbury is nothing more than a 7 year mistake) since (the perpetually underrated and more HOF-worthy than the voters gave him credit for) Bernie Williams.

Mateo. (Presswire)
Mateo. (Presswire)

Yes to center field, no to anytime soon. There’s no reason to make that move until it’s absolutely clear shortstop (and second base) is locked up at the MLB level long-term. Jorge Mateo‘s a really good defender at short, and while I’m sure he’d be a fantastic center fielder thanks to his speed, you’d hate to push aside those shortstop defense skills too soon. He’s only 20 and he’s still in Single-A ball. I say keep him at shortstop until a position change is truly necessary. I do think Mateo could handle center defensively though. This is more of a “he’s more valuable at short” situation than a “he can’t play center” situation.

Chris asks: There’s been a lot of proposed ideas for the new CBA to eliminate or change the qualifying offer. And some have just as many questions as answers, but how about this: push the picks back to the second round. Teams would be less wary of giving up a second rounder, while teams offering the QO wouldn’t be quite as willing to do so for a second round pick. Less draft pool money is lost for the signing team as well but there is certainly still value in a second round pick. What do you think?

I like the idea. I actually mentioned it as a possible fix in a CBS post I wrote a few weeks ago. The team that loses the free agent would still get the same supplemental first round pick, but the signing team would only give up their second rounder, not their first. Teams would be far more willing to give up a second rounder (and the associated draft pool money) to sign a qualified free agent, even middling ones like Ian Desmond and Ian Kennedy.

I do wonder if this plan would be viewed as not enough of a punishment for the signing team, however. The signing team would get the big free agent and still have access to the top talent in the draft. That’s the whole point of the free agent compensation system, to spread the talent around. In theory, teams would get either the big free agents or the top amateurs, not both. Giving up a second rounder is basically a slap on the wrist. Clubs won’t think twice about losing it.

Andrew asks: Do you have more confidence as a fan heading into this season than last year?

I do, for sure. I was not sold on Gregorius as an everyday shortstop last year, I didn’t expect much from Alex Rodriguez (suspension), Teixeira (terrible second half), or Carlos Beltran (offseason elbow surgery), and I was much more concerned about the health of Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Granted, those two are still injury risks, but they each threw 150+ innings in 2015. That’s more than I would have guessed.

This year I’m much more confident in Gregorius, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Beltran being able to produce, and in Tanaka and Pineda being able to stay on the mound. Add in what could be a substantial upgrade at second base, 132 games of Aroldis friggin’ Chapman, plus a full season of Luis Severino, and I’m feeling pretty darn good about the 2016 Yankees. Are they world beaters? Nope. But I think they’re a better team today than they were a year ago.

Paul asks: Even though his days in the field are done, does A-Rod help in coaching someone like Rob Refsnyder at 3b? Or Sir Didi at SS?

Yep. He worked with Gregorius at shortstop last season, and a few days ago Rod told Erik Boland he plans to work with Starlin Castro at third base. I assume he’ll do the same with Refsnyder. Lots and lots of young players have said Rodriguez has helped them over the years. A-Rod’s no saint, that’s very clear, but he’s always had a great reputation for helping teammates, particularly young guys.

Simon asks: Chances are as close to zero as you can possibly get but what do you think it would take to get A-Rod into Monument Park either via plaque or number retirement?

Something huge. The Yankees would need to win the 2016 and 2017 World Series with Rod being the World Series MVP. Something crazy like that. I don’t think there’s any chance the Yankees will put Rodriguez in Monument Park given all the headaches over the years even though he’s unquestionably one of the best players in franchise history. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put No. 13 right back into circulation after he leaves, the same way they gave Scott Sizemore No. 24 right after Robinson Cano left. I think A-Rod deserves a plaque and his number retired. I have zero confidence in it actually happening.

Nicholas asks: I saw on MLBTR that Tejada could be waived by the Mets, should the Yankees be interested in him as a utility infielder? Or is he JAG?

I have no idea what JAG means, but Ruben Tejada is a pretty good backup infielder. He’s managed a wRC+ in the 89-99 range in four of the last five years, and he’s a fine defender at short and second. (His third base experience is limited.) I would greatly prefer Tejada to Pete Kozma or Donovan Solano or any of the other scrap heap infielders the Yankees signed this offseason. I’m not sure who the Mets would carry on the bench instead of Tejada (Eric Campbell? Dilson Herrera?), but if they do waive him, I’d like to see the Yankees pick him up even with the $3M salary. Middle infield depth is good.

Tejada. (Presswire)
Tejada. (Presswire)

Rocco asks: Maybe you know the answer to this: Posting system notwithstanding, is there anything preventing a team from trading a prospect/player and cash to a Japanese team to pry free a player they would not otherwise post? Like, say, a prospect and $20mil for Otani?

The posting system eliminated trades between MLB and NPB teams. It’s all because of Hideki Irabu. The Chiba Lotte Marines traded Irabu to the Padres (for a big pile of cash) and he was upset, so he refused to report. Irabu said he would play for the Yankees, so the Padres flipped him to New York. The transfer agreement between MLB and NPB was revised after the Irabu stuff, so trades aren’t possible anymore. The player has to initiate the transaction between teams in the two leagues now.

Vidhath asks: Regarding Otani’s posting, I thought I read that when he first decided to stay in the NPB instead of coming to the MLB right out of high school, they had a handshake agreement that they would post him whenever he asked. Is that still the case?

That is widely believed to be the case. Shohei Otani wanted to forego the NPB draft and sign with an MLB team out of high school a few years back, but the Nippon Ham Fighters drafted him anyway. He agreed to sign with them and play a few years (giving them a star to replace Yu Darvish) in exchange for the team not standing in his way when he asks to be posted. That’s the rumor, anyway. Who knows if it’s true. Otani’s been very open about his desire to play in MLB. It’s only a matter of time until he’s made available to MLB teams.

Erik asks: Hypothetically, if Shohei Otani were posted as a free agent now at 21 years old, is he not subject to International draft pool limits and exemptions for players 23 and under? Would this apply for KBO players as well? Thanks!

The bonus pools cover amateur players only. Otani and everyone else playing in Japan and Korea are professional players, so they’re not subject to the international bonus pools. Also, Otani would not be a true free agent under the posting system. He’d be free to negotiate with any team during the posting process, but the (Ham) Fighters would still control his rights. Those rights would then be transferred to the signing team. He’d never actually be a free agent, in that no one controlled his rights.

Evan asks: So apparently in-market streaming is going to be available this year but not through mlbtv? Do you have any details on exactly how I go about streaming in market games (is it available for spring training games).

Spring Training games are available on regular old MLB.tv with no blackouts. I watched Wednesday’s game on MLB.tv. As for regular season in-market streaming, I assume it will run through MLB.tv, and you’ll just have to sign up and pay an extra fee for the service. YES actually had an in-market service a few years ago that was great, and that’s exactly how it worked. Sign up through MLB.com, then watch on MLB.tv like any other game. You need to subscribe to YES to get the in-market streaming this year, so I assume when you sign up, you’ll be asked for your cable provider info. Whenever I get more concrete information, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

Eric asks: Is Aroldis Chapman eligible for a qualifying offer? My original understanding of the rule was that as long as a player wasn’t traded in season he was eligible to receive a QO. However, last year I remember reading Yoenis Cespedes wasn’t eligible to get a QO from the Tigers if he wasn’t traded which was what pushed Detroit to trade him. So whats the deal with the QO system with Chapman?

Cespedes had a unique contract. In his original four-year contract with the Athletics, it explicitly said the team had to non-tender him after the fourth year to make him a free agent. (Otherwise he would have remained under team control as an arbitration-eligible player.) The non-tender deadline is after the qualifying offer deadline, which is why Cespedes couldn’t get a qualifying offer. Chapman’s eligible for the qualifying offer. The suspension doesn’t change anything. Now, if the Yankees trade Chapman at the deadline, he will no longer be eligible for the qualifying offer. The player has to spend the full season with the team and Chapman will do that in 2016. Right now there’s no reason to think the Yankees won’t make him the qualifying offer.

Open Thread: March 3rd Camp Notes

Earlier today, the Yankees got clobbered 13-4 by the Phillies in their second Grapefruit League game. Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat of the spring, which is pretty awesome. It was his first swing and second pitch of the spring. Rod went 1-for-2 with a walk. Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Chase Headley each had a hit as well. Gary Sanchez went 0-for-1 with a pair of walks.

Ivan Nova started and allowed a run on two hits in two innings. He struck out one and got three ground ball outs. Jacob Lindgren had a no good, very bad day. He walked three and hit a batter in one-third of an inning, and was charged with four runs. Woof. James Pazos also took one on the chin; he allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. Branden Pinder struck out two in a scoreless inning. The Yankees used eight pitchers and Pinder was the only one to not allow a run. Here is the box score, here are the day’s photos, and here are the day’s notes:

  • Chad Jennings has the day’s workout groups. CC Sabathia, Vicente Campos, and the big three relievers all faced hitters in live batting practice. Nathan Eovaldi (groin) threw his bullpen session as scheduled. Brett Gardner (wrist) took indoor batting practice for the second day in a row. Chasen Shreve (back) threw a bullpen session. He was hit by a line drive during live batting practice earlier this week. Pete Kozma (back) has started defensive drills.
  • The upcoming rotation: Bryan Mitchell (Friday), Tyler Cloyd (Saturday on TV), Masahiro Tanaka (Sunday on TV), Michael Pineda (Monday), Sabathia (Tuesday), Nova (Wednesday on TV), and Eovaldi (Thursday on TV). That schedule lines Tanaka up perfectly to start Opening Day with one extra day of rest between each spring start. [Bryan Hoch]
  • Jacoby Ellsbury is not scheduled to play until Saturday even though he’s healthy. He’s battled nagging leg injuries towards the end of Spring Training the last two seasons, so it seems the Yankees are taking it a little slow with him out of the gate. [Erik Boland]
  • Among the players making the trip to Lakeland for tomorrow afternoon’s game against the Tigers are Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Rob Refsnyder, Jorge Mateo, Brian McCann, and Mitchell. That game will not be broadcast on television or MLB.tv. [Ryan Hatch]
  • And finally, Slade Heathcott almost collided with Beltran while running down a fly ball during this afternoon’s game. Oh Slade. [Hoch]

This is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing the Red Sox and Twins live tonight, if you’re looking for some baseball. The three local hockey teams are all playing and there’s some college basketball on too. Enjoy.